In the summer of 1972
We took a vacation to Florida.
My father mentioned the separate bathrooms.
My brother, sitting on the beach with his bucket
And shovel, got sunburned so bad
We had to take him to the hospital,
His back a field of blisters.
By the time I was ten
I didn’t understand what Walter Cronkite
Was telling the country, but I sensed
My parents’ worry as they listened
To the television or waited for a letter.
Once I felt sick to my stomach at school
And someone, I’m not sure who, drove
Me home with another boy.
He was a black kid, and one of his shoes
Had a lift. We both lay moaning
In the back seat, and then we started
Laughing, then he threw up,
And we laughed harder
Until he buckled over and was dropped off,
And I watched him walk with the shoe,
The thick sole balancing like a raft in choppy water
To his doorstep, and never saw him again.
Photo by Tantrum Dan